Atheist Groups Sue to Remove Ten Commandments Monument from Arkansas State Capitol
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Two atheist groups have filed a lawsuit against the state of Arkansas for a Ten Commandments monument erected in April after a man destroyed the first one by ramming it with his car last summer.
Three years ago, Arkansas passed a law allowing the monument to be built. The Ten Commandments marker was placed on the grounds in June of last year and according to NPR, lasted less than 24 hours before Michael T. Reed II ran into it with his car. Reed is currently being held in the Arkansas State Mental Hospital, according to radio station KUAR.
A new marker had just been installed on the Capitol grounds last month with barricades to protect it.
In lawsuits filed Wednesday in US District Court, the American Humanist Association and the Freedom From Religion Foundation argue that the monument violates the First Amendment.
"The State of Arkansas may not, consistent with the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Arkansas, instruct its citizens which God to worship, forbid its citizens to use a particular deity's name in vain, or require sabbath observances for religious purposes," the lawsuit claims.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas has also filed a separate lawsuit against the state's installation of the monument, citing the same concerns.
State Sen. Jason Rapert is a preacher who sponsored the legislation to allow the monument to be placed on state grounds.
"I am encouraged that Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and her office are prepared to defend the people of Arkansas and the Ten Commandments Monument which honors part of the historical and moral foundation law," he said in a statement.
If the Ten Commandments are good enough to be displayed in the United States Supreme Court Chamber and other state capitol grounds in Texas and around our nation, then they are good enough to be displayed in Arkansas. I look forward to a vigorous defense of the law in Arkansas," the statement continued.
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